Blockchained Society is a series of articles about some practical use-cases of blockchain technology (and others). For every article, we zoom in on ONE possible application of the technology and try to envision how it would change society as we know it, through storytelling and hand-drawn illustrations. Text by Deniz Yilmaz, illustrations by Niels Sinke.
By now, you've met Kim, Tim, Jill, Will and Tom; they have all experienced their own side of the Blockchained Society. There is something they have in common though; they are all living their life in a city. A city that's about to be transformed as well. Let's zoom out a bit and envision how daily life in a "smart city" could look like.
How do you usually start your day? For most people it's about transport; getting from home to work or school. Moving from A to B. In a city empowered by blockchain technology and robotics, you'll no longer be in stuffed metros or traffic congestions. A fleet of private-owned autonomous vehicles — controlled by a decentralized organization , or DAO— will be your main supplier of transport in the city. You simply request a ride on your phone and — moments later — a vehicle that matches your preferences arrives at your doorstep. No need to drive it yourself, since it's fully autonomous and moves in harmony with all other vehicles on the road. Upon arrival, the ride fee is automatically deducted from your cryptocurrency wallet and sent to the vehicle's cryptocurrency wallet on the blockchain, where it can later be collected by the vehicle owner.
By now you've arrived at work and your day is officially started. You don't work for a single company, since you're a freelance front-end developer. In your case, "at work" is a co-working space where you prefer working on jobs you've accepted. You use a decentralized labour market to scout for paid jobs from all over the world. Both companies and individuals use the platform to connect with skilled professionals worldwide. Since the platform is completely decentralized, there's no need for a trusted third party to facilitate the value exchange. Through AI and blockchain technology, the platform is able to decide whether a job is fulfilled and handle the payment accordingly. Since you've quit your full-time job and started working freelance through decentralized labour markets, you life is more flexible than ever before. You decide what kind of work you do, how much workload you accept and where you work. This lifestyle is often referred to as a “digital nomad” or “knowmad” lifestyle.
The co-working space that we've mentioned earlier is your preferred work spot, since it's open 24 hours a day and has all the facilities you'd ever need to be productive. You simply pick a spot and use whatever you want; internet, catering, electricity and meeting rooms. Places like these leverage blockchain technology to enable micropayments; people automatically pay for the resources they use. No more, no less! On an average day, you spend about Ξ0.0006 (Ether, the cryptocurrency of the Ethereum blockchain platform) on a combination of internet, electricity coffee and lunch(excluding the occasional monday brownie). In today’s used fiat currencies, this amounts to about $6 per day.
Later that day, you're meeting someone from the internet since you've agreed to buy his used Playstation 9. Buying used stuff online used to be risky; usually you'd pay in cash and hope that the bought goods weren't stolen or fake. Nowadays, blockchain technology commoditized trust. Upon inspecting the Playstation, you can look up it's origin and history through it's entry on the blockchain. Everything in order? Then you pay the seller through cryptocurrency; instantaneous, reliable and completely free of transaction costs. No more cash, no more cheques, no more money transfers that won't come through until the next day.
Done here for now? You grab another ride home and use the traveling time to book flight tickets for your upcoming trip to the island of Bali. In the past, booking fight tickets used to be a hassle. You'd have to create about three user accounts on various company-owned platforms, manually enter sensitive information from your (clumsy) physical passport and pay for the tickets with your bank account. All in all, you'd spend a lot of time, risk your online privacy and pay hefty fees in the process.
Nowadays, this process seems completely ancient! It's no longer scary to share personal information online, since companies and platforms no longer store your personal data themselves. Instead of entering your data, you simply grant access to your personal information located on a unique blockchain entry.
One single source of personal data, with access control completely in your hands! Booking flight tickets now looks like this: You use a decentralized service to search for tickets, grant access to the data it requires and automatically pay your tickets with cryptocurrency. Seamless, trustless and no fees involved!
Upon arriving home, you notice that your solar panels generated a lot of excess electricity today. Through the local smart grid, it was automatically sold to your neighbours. Blockchain technology enabled local energy markets, where supply and demand is locally evened out as much as possible without relying on the national power grid. This is just one of many examples of the current-day sharing economy.
Blockchain technology won’t just impact finance and industry; it will impact daily life in many aspects. Blockchain technology is a so-called general purpose technology; it will affect the whole economy, just like the steam engine and the internet did. Internet commoditized communication, blockchain commotized trust. Combined with other disruptive technologies, it will reshape the “sharing economy” as we know it today. We’ll exchange value directly; without the need for trusted third parties. We’ll also see the uprise of a machine to machine economy, where robots and IoT-connected devices exchange value directly.
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